Mirage

It’s the first hot day, the first day of skin baking as soon as you step outside, of air that scalds your lungs when you breathe deep. I’m lying in the grass eating apricots that she won’t touch. Too warm, she says. Like eating small furred creatures alive. (She says “souris”–mice, not “creatures,” but it’s small, burrowing things she calls to mind). The heat makes my scalp itch. She’s pacing like a tiger in a cage. We’re alone as far as we can see: shimmering air, our picnic bag, Mad, and me.

“You are going to burn.” She’s pouting.

“So are you. Should we find some shade?”

“Too hot. We will die here, all burned up and blistered.”

“Oh. In that case you should kiss me.”

“Tu es folle?”

“You won’t give me a dying wish?”

“Tu veux un baiser?” She’s smiling, finally, looking down at me.

“Yes. No. Je veux…baise moi?”

“I knew you would say that.” She’s grinning. It wouldn’t be the first time we fucked outside. There’s no one here. I hold my breath. She shakes her head. “How can you think like that, it’s so hot.”

She isn’t touching me, and I don’t think she will. It’s too hot. My hair is shifting in the grass. I stifle a shudder at the image of fire ants marching through it. I’m sweating, my shirt stuck to my skin. I am trying to remember that she is delicate. Under this sun, she wilts. Under her, I turn cracked and hard. I want to kiss her–yes, even sticky with apricots. Even with sweat drying salt on my skin. I want her hands creeping under my clothes, clawing, burrowing for cooler earth straight through me. I am wishing her poise would melt along with her makeup, am comforted that it does not. I crave her something vicious and irritable. I want to kiss her like a cottonmouth strikes, again, and again, long after my venom runs out. I want to lick the shimmer from her skin. I want her to make me forget the redness blooming across my skin.

But she is waiting for me to stand, and when I do her kiss is soothing. “Let’s go.” I let myself be soothed.

We leave apricots and dented grass behind.

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